Monday, May 16, 2016

The Many Voices, Degrees and Phases of Joy

UV 1757/10000 The Many Voices, Degrees and Phases of Joy
The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the LORD of hosts: for the LORD is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the LORD. For I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the LORD.
Jeremiah 33 v 11
Many scripture verses endorse the view that God is not a kill joy but it is the enemy of our souls who is the killjoy who steals our peace, robs us of gladness and kills our joy. These verses repeat the refrain, “that your joy shall be full.” We should be full of joy and our joy should be overflowing. We do not have to pursue happiness for it is given into our hands and laid in our laps. It constitutes the rivers of life giving water that flow from our hearts. It is spring that rises deep inside our souls and not something that tingles and starts at our nerve endings. Our joy is not dependent on our circumstances or the extent of our possessions or bank balance. It does not arise due to thngs that happen or do not happen to us. Joy arises as Jesus owns you and me. Its genesis is from our personal and intimate relationship with our Creator-Redeemer. It comes from the deep insights and revelations of God given to us by means of the Holy Spirit. It has no exodus for it never leaves us. Gladness and joy are the fuel that feed the flame of praise of God. Unless we are glad, joyful and grateful we cannot sincerely worship the Lord. When we hear the voice of the eternal Bridegroom Jesus, we who are the church, the bride, rejoice. We glady acknowledge His leadership, His headship of our lives. When hurting people hear the voice of believers they rejoice and give thanks to the Lord for the good works we do and the good words we speak in His name. When they see our feet approaching, they are joyful for they know we bring glad tidings of joy, the Word to heal them of their diseases and prayers to bless them.
The sacrifice of Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away all the sin of all mankind does away with all other sacrifices but one: the sacrifice of praise. Praise and worship is a sacrifice as we need to subdue and kill our own egos to submit all to the Lord. We seek or take no credit for anything but give glory to Him and to Him alone as the psalmist says. We praise God for His great, boundless and everlasting mercy. He never tires of showing us His mercy. We praise God for choosing us to receive His mercy. We acknowledge we are undeserving and do not attempt to justify ourselves before the just and holy One. We avail of His mercy and depend entirely on His grace. Formerly, we were running a race for ourselves to become great, to become rich, to become famous, to become powerful. We thought it would lead us to lasting happiness. But we were mired in greater and greater misery. We realized the vanity of our ways and now we have joined grace or the good race, God’s race. Formerly, we were running towards something or running away from something. Now, we run with our eyes focussed on the author and finisher of our faith who will take us to the finishing line and place a crown on our heads, saying, “You good and faithful servant.”
The Lord restores us from our former obsessions, captivities, bondages, dead habits. Our obsession with our own success in this world is replaced by a desire to glorify the Creator and Redeemer. A million real life situations in our lives gives opportunities for manifestation of the Lord’s love, mercy and grace. Each such situation becomes a fount of praise and joy in our lives. When we fall sick and He heals us, we praise Him as our Healer. When He delivers us, we praise Him as our great Deliverer. When we are taught a new lesson, we praise Him as our Teacher. When we suffer some loss, He comforts us. We praise Him as our Comforter. We are created to experience joy in different degrees and phases and not move up and down like a yo-yo from sudden highs to sudden lows, from excitement to boredom, from exhilaration to depression. Such upswings and downswings of our moods throw our systems out of gear. We are created and redeemed to move from gladness to joy, from joy to gladness, from gladness to ecstasy or for different phases and degrees of joy. We are glad that we are not doing it on our own but the Lord is with us every step of the way and He is enabling and equipping us for every task He sets for us. We are glad because He has clothed us with the garments of praise. Garments cover nakedness of our otherwise vain desires. We are joyful as He has given us the clothes of salvation that neither moth nor age can destroy. We are glad as He has washed our past record and blotted out the very memory of our past sins, shortcomings and failures. Happiness has different degrees: pleasures of this world that are ephemeral and do not last long. Gladness is the type of happiness that comes from the Lord restoring us from our losses. Joy is the next level of happiness that comes from the gains or blessings He bestows on us. Ecstasy is the highest level of joy that comes from worship in beauty and truth where we think neither of our own losses or gains but we are aware only of the beauty and truthfulness of the Creator and Redeemer.
Prateep V Philip

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